By Chris McKenna, courtesy of The Daily Star
CHRIS EUBANK JR believes beating George Groves will be the next step in matching Anthony Joshua’s pulling power.
The Brighton-born super-middleweight reckons victory against the WBA champion at Manchester Arena on Saturday night will ensure he finally steps out of his father’s shadow.
But his aim is to stand alongside Joshua who, while not yet Britain’s finest fighter, is undoubtedly the No. 1 superstar of the sport in this country.
Eubank Jr, 28, knows being world heavyweight champion helps Joshua pack out football stadiums and line up a long list of sponsors because it is the glamour division.
But he is confident a big win over Groves will help his profile reach a new level and it certainly would get people’s attention with the defending champion the slight favourite to progress to the World Boxing Super Series final.
Eubank Jr said: “Heavyweights do have that pull which is very hard to compete with. Anthony is doing an amazing job, he is putting on great fights and he is
“Anthony is having these fights and he is not even saying anything before these fights. He is shaking the guy’s hand and wishing them the best of luck.
“It’s crazy, I’ve never seen anything like it. The public love it, it’s great for British boxing
“Us, as British fighters, are looking at that and everyone is trying to emulate that. We all want to get to the position where you can fill up a stadium with 80,000 or 100,000 people.
“I believe winning this tournament puts me in that pool. Well, it’s not actually a pool as it is just one guy. It puts me in that category. The potential is there for sure.”
Joshua’s earning power is certainly something everyone in British boxing wants to emulate too with the WBA, IBO and IBF champion pocketing around £15m every time he steps through the ropes these days.
But, for Eubank, money is not the main motivation as he insists it is about legacy and leaving the shadow of his father, Chris Sr, who won world titles in two weight divisions.
Of course, if he beats Groves and books a place in the World Boxing Super Series final then he will be one win away from lifting the Muhammad Ali trophy and claiming the largest share of the £20m prize pot.
“I’m not putting my health at risk and risking my livelihood for nothing,” said Eubank Jr, who has lost just one of his 27 fights.
“There has to be some type of reward, some type of security.
“It is important that it is there. Is that my main motivation? Absolutely not.
“Legacy is my motivation, inspiring the next generation is my motivation.
“Being the fighter that people that don’t know much about boxing, being the fighter that can bring those people into the sport, that’s my motivation.
“I want to create a legacy and with that I have to fight the best over long periods of time. This fight is the beginning of that.
“It is the beginning of that stage of my career where I have these mega fights against the best people of the division. I will fight for as long as I can.
“Am I fighting for fame? No. If you’re fighting for any other reason than you love the sport and the want to be the best then you’re not going to make it.
“I’m being told that George is fighting because he doesn’t have enough money yet to be set up for life. It’s a dangerous mentality.
“I’m fighting because I want to be the best, I want to beat the best and I want to make a name for myself. I’m not fighting because I’m worried about not being able to live comfortably for the rest of my life.”
Groves’ claim earlier this week that Eubank Jr is overlooking this fight rings true when you listen to the challenger talk about future fights with Gennady Golovkin, Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez and a rematch with Billy Joe Saunders, the only man to beat him.
But it could be just the supreme confidence that Eubank Jr has, a trait he shares with his eccentric father, that means defeat never enters his thoughts even though he is facing a far more experienced foe this weekend.
While his former fighting parent was a throwback fighter known for his immense bravery and old-school methods, Eubank Jr is a new-age boxer who happy to use the world of social media to the level of few others to promote himself.
He will share sparring footage on Snapchat, Facebook and Instagram while videos of bag work and other training methods are readily available to all who follow him.
Londoner Groves admits he has watched them, mocking the sparring sessions as footage he would be embarrassed to share but Eubank believes his presence on social media helps increase his profile.
“George has said I’m ‘Insta-famous’,” he said. “That’s not a bad thing. That means that I have people that aren’t boxing fans that are interested in me.
“I’m bringing non-boxing fans into the sport which is good. It means I’m doing my job, it means I’m on the right track.
“Maybe he is jealous. He doesn’t put himself out there. I’m a people’s person, I’m a people’s champion.
“I let people see my journey, I document my training every day, Snapchat, Facebook, Instagram, and people can see what I’m going through to get to the level I’m at.
“While George is the type of fighter that has everything behind closed doors.
“He doesn’t want people to know what he is doing so he will never be able to reach the people like I can. Is he jealous of that? Maybe, I don’t know.”
But no matter how big Eubank Jr becomes, he will always be compared to his elder. He may no longer live in his shadow if he beats Groves but he will still be alongside him.
“People need to see me as Chris Eubank Jr and not as Eubank Sr’s son,” he added.
“But I have come to terms with that, even if I become the greatest fighter who ever lived it will always be like that.
“We will always be compared because of how great he was - we have the same name and are in the same sport.
“I don’t have a problem with that because he was a great fighter.”
Saturday will go a long way to showing if Eubank Jr has what it takes to be not only a great fighter, but also a star of the sport.